A row has erupted between BrewDog and a human resources consultancy that offered to improve relations between the beer brand and its staff.
Allan Leighton, BrewDog’s chairman and the former boss of Asda, has accused Hand & Heart of “amplifying attacks” on its management team and has declined to take part in a proposed reconciliation programme.
In a letter to Kate Bailey, Hand & Heart’s managing director, Leighton said he was concerned about a platform that had been set up for BrewDog workers, claiming it was “encouraging participants to submit malicious content . . . The unavoidable impression is that of H&H charging the company to extinguish a fire it is fuelling itself.”
BrewDog was founded in 2007 by James Watt and Martin Dickie and is based in Ellon, Aberdeenshire. As well as sellings its beer, which includes Punk IPA, it operates more than 100 bars and employs 2,000 people worldwide. Its treatment of staff came into focus after more than 100 former employees published an open letter last June criticising the culture of BrewDog. The BBC also broadcast a Disclosure documentary about the company.
Watt apologised after the complaint by former staff, who went by the name Punks with Purpose. An internal review was launched, with Leighton brought in to oversee changes.
Hand & Heart, which is based in Berlin, has set up a platform on its website where it says that BrewDog workers can independently register their experiences with the company “to assist Punks with Purpose in their core mission of tackling BrewDog’s cultural issues”. The consultancy had not been formally hired by BrewDog.
The letter from Leighton was first reported by The Mail on Sunday. In it he also raises concerns about paying Hand & Heart “significant” fees to manage a reconciliation programme.
Bailey said: “BrewDog issued a letter to me and my company that was filled with malicious, unfounded accusations designed to discredit me and my work. I published two lengthy and evidence-based factual rebuttals on my website. The letter and its dissemination, in my professional opinion as an experienced workplace consultant, is a failure of leadership and corporate governance who seemingly cannot comprehend the paper trail of facts that easily refute their claims, or how that would reflect on their company in the future.
“For the sake of BrewDog’s workforce and the many people exhausted by this situation, I do wish BrewDog could focus on the individuals who have alleged being harmed in their workplaces and make it right with them, and growing into a thriving global company — instead of spending their time attacking me and my company on false grounds.’’
BrewDog confirmed the letter had been sent but did not comment further.